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Marketing Watchdog Journal
  February 2012, Issue 95

Demand-Generation Best Practices
It's Not Your Parents' Internet Anymore: Personalizing Content for the BtoB Visitor
Excerpt from a DemandGen Report e-book, "Tell Them What They Want to Hear: Optimizing the BtoB Website with Account-Based Targeted Content," sponsored by Demandbase

Content is how marketers speak to and engage with website visitors. Failing to make that content relevant to the specific needs of visitors means that companies are wasting time, and likely money, by ineffectively converting website traffic. Today technology can empower organizations with a complete picture of the account visiting a site—and the logical thing to do with that information is to adapt the content strategy to speak directly, uniquely and intelligently to that account.

The following is an excerpt from a recently published e-book, "Tell Them What They Want to Hear," which explores exactly how personalizing website content can be the foundation of building engagement and ultimately driving revenue.

Download the E-book

This chapter is an excerpt from DemandGen Report's e-book, "Tell Them What They Want to Hear: Optimizing the BtoB Website with Account-Based Targeted Content," sponsored by Demandbase.

You may download the entire e-book here.

Chapter 2: Focus on Personalizing Content for the BtoB Website Visitor

In BtoB marketing today there is a substantial disconnect between driving traffic to a website and then interacting with those visitors once they arrive. Through online advertising, SEO, SEM, marketing automation and targeted integrated campaigns, marketers have flooded their websites with visitors, only a fraction of which are high-value prospects that are likely to convert and buy. Buyers are coming to websites better educated, with less time to spend searching for relevant content and with an extremely short attention span. The focus has to shift from delivering a generic information portal that requires multiple visitor clicks to find relevant information, to a dynamically responsive platform that presents pertinent content at the first touch.

"Our research shows that often only 20-30% of BtoB web traffic is coming from companies that would be categorized as 'on-target.' It's vital to make sure your most valuable traffic sees the content and offers that are most relevant to them," noted David Steinore, Director of Information Architecture at Demandbase.

Website conversion optimization for BtoB marketing is built on a foundation of relevant, targeted content that immediately engages the visitor by responding to their account-based needs.

Lessons from BtoC

The brilliance of online BtoC sales is that they realized early on the importance of personalization. By delivering content based on relevant search terms (red running shoe search in Google presents a homepage of red running shoe choices when you click through to Foot Locker), or building a profile through cookies, prior visits, and shopping history meant that it was easy to guess what content was most likely to result in a sale on any particular visit.

The problem with applying the BtoC model directly for BtoB is multipart:
  • A conversion and a sale are not the same thing;
  • The buying cycle is significantly longer and more complex, and often requires human interaction;
  • Search is rarely focused on a specific product; and
  • BtoB does not sell to individuals, they sell to accounts.
As a result, many of the attempts to translate the success of the BtoC model have been underwhelming. BtoB can take the best of the intelligence gleaned from BtoC to create a more relevant, engaged buying experience focused on the needs of the account-based buyer by personalizing to the specific requirements of that company.

Understanding the Account Identity

In the law a corporation is seen as a unique entity having its own identity. This, too, is how BtoB marketing needs to be looking at (and talking to) their business prospects. At least until we identify their individual identity and interests and begin nurturing them with an automated lead nurture program. The inability to deliver content and messages most relevant to a web visitor's account identity has led to the one-size-fits-all approach to BtoB web design previously discussed.

"The challenge for BtoB organizations is that you really have to make your website work for visitors before you know who they are," said Adam Greco, Managing Partner of Web Analytics Demystified.

In personalizing the web experience to an individual buyer, it is important to look at the specific demographics that would influence buying behaviors: title, role, function, placement in pipeline, etc. Similarly when selling to an account, marketers need to understand the key attributes that define each account, including: industry, revenue, size, location and more. This company-centric data provides insight into the messaging and offers that are most likely to result in a conversion. The problem has been that conventional methods of identifying site visitors focused on the individual rather than the account.

Demographics of BtoB buyers can be helpful for marketers to accelerate them through the sales cycle. Paying close attention to which offers prospects respond to and sending them similar targeted content can help marketers evaluate content consumption to determine their place in the buying cycle.

Cookies have been the most common means of identifying site visitors, but they only work for return visitors, or when a visitor has followed a predetermined path to get to the site (such as a link provided in an email). In BtoB there are fewer return visits, so customizing content based on those few possibilities becomes cumbersome, costly and largely ineffective. The web experience needs to be optimized from the very first visit in order to have the greatest impact. When tracking an identified visitor through a marketing automation system, a cookie is only effective if the email recipient clicks through a specified path, and companies are limited in the type of customized content they can provide. If the visitors come to the site through any other means, all connection to their identity is lost and customization is impossible.

Legally the use of cookies may become increasingly difficult as they are now at the forefront of national privacy debates regarding online marketing. HR 654, the "Do Not Track Me Online" Act, introduced in February, would authorize the FTC to require marketers to provide a clear opt-out for all online tracking. The effect of the legislation would be to nullify any value cookies provide by once again limiting the data marketers can gather to that which is directly offered.

Cookies can be a tremendously effective tool to help BtoB marketers track individual website behavior for previously identified web visitors, but if the goal is to convert more first-time visitors, then content personalization based on account identifiers is necessary.

Effectively targeting content to an account has to be based on the unique business attributes of that account: common name, industry, annual revenue, the number of employees at the company and where they are located. This is personalization based on business identity and it allows you to speak to what matters to that visitor: how a solution can help companies in verticals like theirs, solve problems they face, and get better results.

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About Demandbase
Demandbase is a technology company that enables BtoB marketers to improve marketing conversions and turn web traffic into sales. Delivered on demand, Demandbase's SaaS solutions leverage its proprietary Business Resolution Platform, combining real-time identification of the companies visiting a website with a new breed of BtoB web analytics, measurement, and integration tools to make every customer or prospect interaction more effective, and significantly increase conversion rates. Founded in 2006 and in use at more than 1,000 companies, Demandbase is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and funded by Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), Altos Ventures and Sigma Partners.

About DemandGen Report
DemandGen Report is a targeted e-media publication spotlighting the strategies and solutions that help companies better align their sales and marketing organizations, and ultimately, drive growth. A key component of the publication's editorial focuses on the sales and marketing automation tools that enable companies to better measure and manage their multi-channel demand generation efforts.

Marketing Watchdog Journal is a monthly newsletter from Bulldog Solutions, a revenue performance agency that designs and executes strategies that transform our clients' revenue performance. We welcome your feedback on this newsletter's content and design, and encourage you to share your ideas for topics you would like us to cover in future issues. Please send your comments or questions about Bulldog Solutions to Cheyanne Atchley, director of marketing.

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